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Clean, Hybrid Versions Of London's Iconic Cabs Can Now Hit The Streets

A court finds that looking like a London cab can't be trademarked, so new cabs can start taking passengers—while spewing less pollution.

Clean, Hybrid Versions Of London's Iconic Cabs Can Now Hit The Streets

Top Photo: Flickr user Carey Evans

You’d think that a greener, hybrid version of London’s famous black cabs would be a good thing for the traffic-choked British capital—and you’d be right. Unless, that is, you’re the current manufacturer of the iconic taxi, in which case you’d do anything to block competition.

That’s exactly what has happened in London, where the London Taxi Company claimed that the new hybrid Metrocab had infringed on trademarks covering the taxi’s design.

Flickr user Christian Córdova

However, a high court judge ruled that there is no such infringement, and that the trademarks are invalid—"merely a variation of the typical shape of a car," according to the Guardian. This means that Metrocab can go ahead and make cleaner taxis that look like proper London cabs. Mass production is scheduled for this year.

The New Metrocab gets 98 miles per gallon, produces only a quarter of the CO2 of a regular black cab, can run in an all-electric zero-emissions mode, and costs, says Wikipedia, around $30 to $60 less to run per day. More importantly, the New Metrocab automatically complies with new laws that will require all new taxis to be zero emission by 2018.

Taxis are an important part of clearing private cars off city roads, in an anticipation of car-free cities, or at least cities that host only driverless cars. Then again, perhaps car-sharing and on-demand ride services like Uber will decimate the industry first, especially as buying a zero-emissions car is a lot easier than buying a purpose-built zero-emissions cab.

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